Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Will Not Stop or Roll Back Well

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    This is a common complaint for reining horses and other Western disciplines. Any lameness condition can contribute to a horse’s reluctance to stop hard or roll back, but hind limb pain, specifically hock soreness, is a classic cause. Back pain and any other lameness also can cause horses to resist engaging their hind limbs to stop heard. Saddle fit issues are common and under-diagnosed. Neurologic conditions, too, can cause inability to collect and work off the haunches. But pain, lameness and illness blend into training, conditioning and riding issues. Sometimes multiple factors are at play.


    Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Look closely at all of the limbs for signs of swelling, a pain response, or resistance to handling the limb. Feel for digital pulse. Assess the horse’s back. Assess lameness at the walk and trot. Assess your tack fit and condition. Touch and press the skin and deeper tissues of the horse’s back and girth- anywhere there is normally contact with the saddle. Look for a pain response, heat, swelling, and look for saddle rubs and sores. Check the back for dry spots under a wet saddle blanket, and look for white hairs that might indicate pressure points from the saddle. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. Consider having someone take a video of your performance issues. Have a qualified trainer ensure that riding and training is appropriate.


    Many of the physical problems affecting performance at this level are subtle and may be difficult to diagnose. Talk to your vet about performing a lameness exam. In some cases, a bute trial may be helpful to separate a physical from training problem. Once physical problems have been ruled out by your vet, you can focus on the training and conditioning necessary to improve performance.

    POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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